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Born September 13, 1940 as Michael James, Jimmy James grew to be one of the most memorable soul singers in the world. At the ripe age of 16, Michael James started his musical career as a baritone singer. He composed lyrical masterpieces that proved to be successful when he landed his first single “Bewildered and Blue” under the Tip Top music label. The single soon became a number one hit. His second release soon gained the attention of the Vagabonds –one of the most popular and sought after live bands in Jamaica.
James joined with the Vagabonds in 1960 as lead vocalist and the group quickly sought plans to take their act on the road. Four years later, the band released the Island label LP Presenting the Fabulous Vagabonds. The group gained even more popularity as they dominated the music charts and collectively decided to relocate to London in 1965. The transition was exactly what the Vagabonds needed, as the UK was where their career really took off.
The band opened for the Who at the famous Marquee Club where they were able to captivate both the audience and the Who band manager Pete Meaden, who took the Vagabonds under his wing. James and the Vagabonds were asked to perform as the opening act for the Who every week without hesitation and quickly emerged as one of the hottest live bands in the UK. The Vagabonds were well-known for the powerful, resolute vocals of lead singer James and the vivacious personality of the band members.
For three years, James and the Vagabonds headlined at the Marquee before being asked to perform a series of concerts in Hungary. They became the first musical group from the West to have entertained behind the Iron Curtain. In 1966, the group signed a recording contract with Pye Records. The band released a number of singles, including The New Religion, which became their most popular studio album.
The single ‘Red Red Wine’ made the UK’s Top 40 hits chart in 1968. It would be another eight years before James and the Vagabonds would have a song to make the chart. The group also orchestrated a U.S. hit with a re-recorded version of James’ early solo hit “Come to Me Softly” in 1968.
The Vagabonds disbanded in 1970 and was later reformed by James in 1974 with a whole new line-up of members. James reunited with Pye in 1976 and was resigned where he recorded, “I’ll Go Where Your Music Takes Me” and “Now Is The Time” which made the singles chart in the UK. In 2007, James contributed to “The Other Side of the Street,” a song for Ian Levine’s Northern Soul album and also performed at the ‘Classic Gold Weekender’ along with Marmalade, Love Affair and Showaddywaddy.
No matter what the occasion, Jimmy James & The Vagabonds are a diverse band with members who have been playing together for many years. Their ability to adapt to any function or event with a versatile music genre list is what makes this band truly extraordinary. You can guarantee that Jimmy will leave his audience in awe and amazement, yearning for more even after the party has ended.
Current Set List Includes I'll Go Where The Music Takes Me - Jimmy James and the Vagabonds Now Is The Time - Jimmy James and the Vagabonds My Girl - Jimmy James and the Vagabonds Hold Back The Night - Jimmy James and the Vagabonds Red Red Wine - Jimmy James and the Vagabonds A Man Like Me - Jimmy James and the Vagabonds Come To Me Softly - Jimmy James and the Vagabonds How sweet it is - Marvin Gaye My Girl - The Temptations Be young be foolish be happy - The Tams Stand by me (Drifters medley) Under the Boardwalk - The Drifters Save the last dance for me - The Drifters How sweet it is to be loved by you - Marvin Gaye Half way to paradise - Billy Fury I’m doing fine now - The Pasadenas Walk away from love - David Ruffin Higher and Higher - Jackie Wilson Hold back the night - The Tramps Just my imagination - The Temptations Ain’t no stopping us now - Mcfadden & Whitehead